Easy Ways to Save Money on Car Expenses

Lisa Steuer McArdle
· 4 min read
Few people can afford to spend fortunes on their cars, but that doesn't mean they want to settle for a junker. Nor do they want to wind up paying too much for
car insurance
or gas.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to
save money
and still get a good car.
There are plenty of ways to save money on a good car and its expenses.

Save money at the start

Getting the right car will save you money in the long run. A smaller, lighter car will burn less fuel, so you save gas by choosing a compact model. Smaller cars tend to cost less upfront, too.
It isn't just picking a smaller car that will help you save money. Some trim options will make a car less fuel efficient. For instance, automatic transmissions are less fuel efficient than manual transmissions.
Another thing to research before buying a car is how to minimize your insurance costs. Safety features can get you discounts on your premiums, and some cars are so prone to theft and damage that insurance companies add a surcharge to their policies.
When you do go into the dealership, the dealer may want to add service contracts, extended warranties, credit life, or credit disability insurance to your loan. These tend to be overpriced and cover little, so avoid them.
Once you have the right car, drive it for as long as possible. Cars lose value quickly, while new models get more expensive every year. It's a better deal to keep one car for five to seven years.
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Save money on gas

The most regular expense for a car is fuel. You can keep your costs down in this area in a couple of ways.
Fill your tank with the cheaper, lower octane gas recommended by your manual, and don't overfill the tank. The extra gas could just spill out on a hot day, and the higher octane rating won't bring you any benefits.
There are some driving techniques that will reduce how much gas you need. Accelerate gently, coast to a stop, and watch traffic carefully so you can avoid braking hard. You can reduce your fuel consumption by not idling or driving too fast or slow.
One of the best ways to spend less on gas is to drive less. Sharing a carpool can save you $200 a year if your commute is 20 miles round-trip. Driving less will also reduce the wear on your car, so it will last longer.

Maintenance rules

MORE: Don't Listen to These 5 Old Car Maintenance Myths
You don't have to spend a lot on maintaining your car if you diligently check your fluids. Keeping battery water and other fluids topped off prolongs their life.
To keep big, expensive engine repairs away, change the oil and oil filter every 3,000 miles, and check your car's air filter monthly. You can clean your air filter with an air hose or replace it.
A regular maintenance schedule saves you cash in a lot of other areas, too: properly rotated and inflated steel-belted radial tires improve fuel efficiency. Tune up will also keep your car efficient, according to
The Balance

The right insurance will save you money

Insurance is another expense associated with owning a car that you can control. For instance, reducing your yearly mileage may get you cheaper insurance.
You may be surprised at what insurance companies will give you a discount for. Non-drinkers and non-smokers can qualify for one, and good student discounts are available to households with people under 25 years old. Bundling your auto and home insurance together and avoiding traffic tickets can get you even more discounts.
A good driver can benefit from increasing his or her
, since that will lower their premium. If you paid off your car, you might want to update your coverage too.
The best way to get cheap insurance is to comparison shop. That's why
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